Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 28th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he often disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Gratifying Job

A client was understandably fearful because she was returning to court last week, expecting to have her parental rights terminated. However, when she returned her face was the picture of joy. After listening to both sides the judge postponed the case for several months, indicating the woman had a chance to retain custody of her child.

This scenario plays out often at TLC. Mothers and fathers come in, totally demoralized, because they've had their parental rights severed - or are about to have them severed. Then, when they show up to court clean and sober, positive and upbeat, the system takes notice.

While my parental rights were never severed, my two oldest children suffered because of my addiction. I was always away or always in trouble because of my disease. I spent years incarcerated or on the run until I got sober. Today they bear the residual effects of my disease. They were mostly raised by their mother, who had her own issues. One is an overachiever who's never been in trouble and is highly successful – but I can see the pain flicker across her face when she talks of her childhood. The other is still suffering from a lifelong addiction that I believe is directly related to his childhood.

This is perhaps one of the most gratifying aspects of managing TLC. One of our most important responsibilities is to care for our children. But when our disease takes precedence, our children often suffer - unless we put them with other relatives. Even then they suffer because their home life is disrupted. And they live with anxiety of the decline of an addict or alcoholic parent. They develop an uncertainty that will stay with them for years - if not forever.

So It's gratifying when we help parents get their lives back on track and resume their roles as parents.